Art designs for new building examined

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By Jennifer Garcia

A design featuring water, wind and Earth, or some type of mosaic will likely be the artwork chosen for the east wall of the Judicial/Police/Jail Complex.

A committee made up of stakeholders who have an interest in the building and members of the Art in Public Places Board as well as county staff, met in a two-hour meeting Tuesday.

During the meeting they examined and discussed the proposals that artists submitted to the county and talked about what type of artwork they’d like to see on the wall.

“The board wanted to get input from the stakeholders. It’s your building. The art will be placed on the east wall, facing the pond,” APP Chair John Hofmann said.

“Max (Baker) said we could consider spending lots of money because of its location, so we’re looking at $100,000 plus for the art,” APP Board Liaison Stephani Johnson said.

The committee, composed of Hofmann, Board Member Joanna Gillespie, Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados, Police Lieutenant Chuck Ney, Captain Randy Foster, JPJ Project Manager Victor Martinez, Court Administrator Barbara Marcille, a representative from the detention center and Capital Projects and Facilities Manager Anne Laurent pored over approximately 22 proposals. Johnson was also at the meeting, but refrained from voting on the proposals.

Most of the proposals varied as far as style and medium used, but some proposals were similar because the same medium was used to construct them. Some proposals included the artist’s rendering and description, while others were simple and contained minimal information.

A couple of the proposals were straightforward and featured some form of the scales of justice. One artist submitted a piece called “Arch of Protection” that featured an arch of eagles that would be cast in bronze.

“They look like crows to me,” Casados commented. “Do you know what they call a group of judges in black robes?” she asked a couple of other committee members. “A murder of crows,” she explained, “that’s what it looks like to me. A murder of crows,” she said of the proposed piece of art.

Other proposals featured flowers or mountains. One artist proposed putting a “cloud” on the side of the building that could feature LED lights and a misting mechanism that would “rain” down the side of the wall.

Another artist proposed that tiles in the form of a crossword puzzle be placed on the side of the building, featuring words like peace, liberty, democracy and freedom.

At least one artist submitted a proposal for a freestanding sculpture, however, that choice was quickly shot down because the committee wants a piece of art that can be placed on the wall rather than in front of it.

After reviewing all of the proposals, committee members voted on their top three choices. They were given three stickers each, which could be put on their favorite proposals.

The Earth, wind and water piece received the most votes, followed by a flower mosaic proposal by an artist from San Francisco.

The third place winner was another mosaic by a Santa Fe artist, who uses painted pieces of aluminum to craft mosaics using Southwestern colors.

Foster used all three of his stickers on the water, Earth and fire piece.

“For a JPJ, flowers don’t seem like the proper medium,” he said, regarding the flower mosaic proposal.

Laurent also voiced her opinion about the flower mosaic proposal.

“The work is much more urban. It’s more about the subject matter than his capabilities. I think we all agree that the subject matter isn’t right.”

After further discussion of the three pieces, the committee decided to get more information from the artists, before making a decision on their top choice.

A couple of the proposals did not include price information.

In addition, there are some changes that the committee is interested in making to the Earth, wind and fire piece, as well as the flower mosaic, so they need to make sure that the artist is willing to accommodate these changes.

After all the information is gathered, Hofmann said that another meeting will be held so the committee can make a final decision. From there, the proposal will go before the APP Board and if approved, will then go to county council for final approval.